PASS Connector Editorial for October 7- by Andy Warren

Meet the PASS Board Candidates

Just one topic this week – elections! If you haven’t seen the announcement already, we’ve posted the slate of candidates for the 2009 PASS Board of Directors election. Here are the four candidates running for the three available seats:

  • Brian Moran
  • Jeremiah Peschka
  • Matt Morollo
  • Thomas LaRock

You can read details about each candidate as well as how the elections process works. Our nomination committee was led by Immediate Past President Kevin Kline and consisted of Judy Christianson (Executive Director), Rushabh Mehta (VP Finance), Allen Kinsel, and Brian Knight. They reviewed 11 applications, interviewed seven nominees, and selected the final four candidates to compete for three vacant seats on the Board of Directors for the 2010-2011 term.
If you were a member of PASS before May 2009, you should have received an email from PASS asking you to complete a qualification survey as a pre-requisite to voting this year.You can also vote if you registered for PASS Summit 2009 by October 8. Voting will run October 14-20, with eligible voters receivinge a link to their 2009 ballot. 

Winners will be announced before PASS Summit this year, leveling the playing field for those unable to attend and campaign and giving the Board time to work with the new members to ensure a smooth transition in January.

Please take the time to research the candidates, read their blogs, and vote carefully for the three best candidates  to represent you on the Board.

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PASS Connector Editorial for September 23- by Andy Warren

It’s the busy time of year here at PASS. We just wrapped our first (but not last!) 24 Hours of PASS virtual conference, the nominating committee is working on the slate of candidates for the Board of Directors, the officer nomination committee is working on recommendations for the officer candidates for this year, and of course PASS Summit is only a few weeks away now. We’re also coming up on the annual election, always a busy and interesting time for PASS.


Changing topics, I’d like to challenge you to participate more in your local chapter. That doesn’t mean you have to go to every meeting, but at least go to enough that you recognize the regulars. Maybe earn some karma by volunteering to show up early to set up the room, or take on a bigger role by taking ownership of finding speakers or sponsors, but go.


Chapters aren’t just technology, they are people, and that’s usually what makes it fun and interesting. It’s also important to the health and success of a good chapter to have good attendance relative to the size of the area. For example, here in Florida, the Space Coast group averages 10-12 attendees. I consider that very good considering it’s a small town. In Tampa, they average 40-50 attendees, not bad at all for a much larger city.

You add value by just attending. Somewhere behind the scenes someone has sent the emails, set up the room, found the speaker, and paid for the pizza. And all they hope for is a good meeting with good attendance. You can go to learn something or to meet people, and just by being there, do something positive. Not sure I said that well, but hopefully it gets you thinking.

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PASS Connector Editorial for September 9- by Andy Warren

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Jacksonville Code Camp, a great event with 8 tracks and 460 attendees! As you can guess from the title the focus is developers, but developers do some data access and so there was one SQL track – the main reason I attended. As I sat through some of the SQL presentations (all well attended) what struck me is how much of a gap remains between developers and DBAs.


Some of that gap is the nature of the way we train developers and DBAs – on the job.  That’s a practical strategy, but it also means that our early views of how the world should be are shaped incidentally. If the first job a developer has is for a company that doesn’t have a DBA and doesn’t do a lot of data access, it’s easy for them to see data access as something less than interesting. Or if the first job is with a company with a really tough DBA, they may see DBAs as an obstacle rather than a helpful team member.


Some of the gap is responsibility. DBAs feel the weight of down time, data loss, security breaches in a way that few developers do. It’s not that developers don’t care, but they have the insulation of QA, testing, and not having access to production.


Some of the gap is the way we’ve divided up the teams. Having DBAs and developers on different teams makes a lot of sense for many reasons; separation of duties for SOX, cross training with others will similar skills, etc. The separate teams aren’t innately bad, but in practice they present another hurdle to communication.
Over time all of those things and more have created a real divide. I don’t know that we can fix it in one editorial, but here are some ideas for you to think about:

Developers

  • Remember that data is the life blood of the business and DBAs are tasked with keeping it safe – understanding that point of view will help you bridge many gaps
  • Good design and data access does matter regardless of the number of planned users. Doing it well doesn’t take much more time than not
  • Treat your DBA as a valued consultant. You’ll get better results if you show them the problem than if you give them the solution

DBAs

  • We can’t afford to be road blocks for the sake of ideals. Time to market demands often force businesses to take short cuts. Help them make smart choices about where to short cut and where to invest a bit more effort
  • Don’t expect developers to be SQL experts! They should write their own procs and more, but don’t expect them to design a solid indexing strategy for you
  • Get in the game early. Start sitting in on the planning meetings with developers so that you can offer some sage advice when the cost of change is low. Remember the first point – sometimes corners will have be cut, be flexible and show them the pitfalls as you see them


I think there some things PASS can do to make the developer/DBA relationship work better, but ultimately it comes down to people – an analog solution to be sure. If you think about it, it’s really more than being a good DBA or good developer, it’s about being a good team player and a good employee. Try to worry less about your concerns and focus on helping other people get stuff done. Someone has to go first – why not you?

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PASS Connector Editorial for August 12- by Andy Warren

Those of you who have been PASS members for a while may remember that we used to publish a magazine in conjunction with SQLServerCentral.com called The SQL Server Standard (free back issues available for download). We stopped publication in 2008 due to rising costs. It was a necessary step, but one that left us without a good process for obtaining content for sqlpass.org.
Beginning this week, we’re going to reuse the great magazine name to call out premium content that will get posted on sqlpass.org.  Grant Fritchey, MVP and author, will be the editorial lead on this project - the guy who reviews abstracts and decides what to publish. Brad McGehee, MVP and author - will be the lead technical reviewer, tasked with making sure that the content is accurate, and we’ll have a real copy edit done to make sure the grammar and spelling is correct.
We’re going to aim for 26 articles per year (one per Connector) that will each run 1000 to 4000 words. Authors need 5 years professional experience and to have been previously published. More details on the requirements can be found here, but the fun part is that you can get paid to write for PASS. We’re paying $500 per article and you’ll earn every penny of it!
In addition to that, we’re also accepting two other types of content from PASS members. One of them are PASS Tips, 1-5 minute video tips that focus on SQL Server (not third party products), and the other are our very popular Top 10 Lists. These go through a lighter review phase and are unpaid contributions, a great way to participate in PASS and build your resume. Just remember that you’re putting this in front of your peers, give it your best effort!
We’ve tried to frame our content plan to encourage growth in our members, to give them a place to grow and prove their skills before moving on to books and speaking at the PASS Summit. We’ve also tried to build it in such a way that we don’t appear to be competing with the many great content sites that are already out there, trying to carve out a niche that is good for PASS, our members, and the overall community.
Have a question about this, the PASS Summit, or PASS in general? I answer questions for free! Drop me an email, andy.warren@sqlpass.org.

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PASS Connector Editorial for July 29 - by Andy Warren

How good are you at meeting new people at a user group meeting or conference? Do you remember names? Do you follow up, or do you wind up discarding the business cards without looking at them? Do you wish you were better at networking?

This year at PASS Summit, we're trying to do more than just have “networking events”. For the first time we have real training available to help you learn to network. Noted author Don Gabor will be presenting a 2-hour seminar the afternoon of Nov 2 where you may not learn it all, but you'll get a good start! The $60 seminar includes a signed copy of his book. Go to the seminar, learn some skills, and then move right into the opening night reception to give them a try in the real world.


You might go because you need to grow your networking skills, but the seminar also represents a great networking opportunity itself. Author and speaker Grant Fritchey will be there and blogged about why he plans to attend. So did PASS board member Tom LaRock. Summit speaker Kendal Van Dyke and PASS volunteer Jack Corbett will be attending. Past President Kevin Kline will be there and so will Steve Jones from SQLServerCentral.com.  I’ll be attending and blogged about why as well.

We’re going to try for a group photo of all 100 attendees together, and invite them all to join an attendee only LinkedIn group to make sure everyone has a chance to decide who they want to meet and has a way to save the connections they make.

Networking is a vital career skill. It doesn’t mean you need a job or have something to sell, often having that connection means you can help someone else, often in unexpected ways. More practically, attending an event like the PASS Summit is a lot more fun when you connect with people.


Have a question about the networking seminar, the PASS Summit, or PASS in general? Email me at andy.warren@sqlpass.org and we’ll get you an answer.

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PASS Connector Editorial for July 1 - by Andy Warren

Just as the last issue of the Connector was ready to send we announced the full schedule for the 2009 PASS Summit. In this issue I want to focus on a topic that I think is of critical importance to PASS (and a personal cause) – bringing in new talent each year. If you look at the schedule you’ll see a Who’s Who of people in the SQL Server world, and that is good. Good because they have a lot to share, and good because they find the Summit to be an event worth their time. It’s definitely good for attendees.
 
So why do we need new talent? I can think of a few interesting reasons: 

  • We need a ‘next generation’ of speakers for when the current ones retire
  • We need new ideas and new approaches – and new passion
  • It makes speaking slots competitive – only so many seats on the island
  • It’s the right thing to do. Good organizations constantly look for those with potential and offer them the opportunity to grow – but they have to do the work

I asked PASS HQ to send me a list of first time Summit speakers and it turns out 13 of the 85 distinct speakers are on the list. I’ve linked to their blog where I could find one:

Denny Cherry
Glenn Berry
Jacob Sebastian
Jamon Bowen
John Paul Cook
Jonathan Kehayias
Kendal Van Dyke
Kevin Guinn
Michelle Ufford
Ravindra Gurram
Rob Garrison
Rod Colledge
Trevor Barkhouse

Remember, these aren’t first time speakers or newbie DBA’s – they’ve all been using and talking about SQL Server for a while. Read some of their blogs, or search for them and see what you find. I think you’ll see that those listed above are another 12 good reasons to attend the Summit this year.

In the next issue we’ll look at the upcoming PASS elections. Until then, if you have questions about PASS, please email me at andy.warren@sqlpass.org

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PASS Connector Editorial for June 3 - by Andy Warren

I was browsing through the list of SQL 2008 books today to find one to feature in this issue of the Connector and Pro SQL Server 2008 Analytics: Delivering Sales and Marketing Dashboards caught my eye. There’s no doubt that ‘dashboards’ are a hot commodity these days and while some of that might just be the buzzword of the quarter, there’s also a real need to provide information to business users in a way that people understand.

Often we call that reporting, and the presumption is that reporting is easy, if anything figuring out the query for the report is the hard part. There are definitely reports that work just fine in the plain tabular format, but it’s interesting how displaying the data the right way can lead to a better or faster understanding of what the data means. For example, during the months prior to our European Summit we received a weekly report that was a graph showing the year over year trend along with lines indicating major milestones on each timeline making it very easy to understand.  For the 2009 Summit we get a similar report but in tabular format. It’s the same data, just not as easy to understand.

Business intelligence isn’t just reporting, there is definitely a lot to it and as I assess my own skills I see that without more knowledge of both SSIS and SSAS I’m limiting the solutions I propose – the old saying about when all you have is a hammer all the problems look like nails applies all too well.

Changing topics, I saw that Board member Greg Low just sent out his monthly email to our chapter leaders and included this time is something we’re calling the ‘chapter deck’, a short Powerpoint slide deck that has news and other information from PASS.  Our hope is that this becomes both a tool that is useful and time saving for the chapter leader, but also another way to communicate our messages to prospective members. If you attend a chapter meeting and see it used, let us know what you think!

Have a question about PASS? Email me at andy.warren@sqlpass.org.

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PASS Connector Editorial for May 20 - by Andy Warren

As of our most recent update PASS has more than 45,000 members, a number that reflects real growth over the last year and an indication that PASS is moving in the right direction.  We’re doing a lot of things better than ever; more Chapters, more Chapter communication, more local events, more Summit attendees, more translucency, more volunteers. That’s not to say we’re done, just that we’ve made positive progress and the challenge is to maintain and accelerate our growth and change.
Setting goals, often ambitious goals, is a good thing because goals focus your energy. One of our major goals for PASS is to reach 100,000 members by June 30, 2010 (or sooner!). That’s an aggressive goal, trying to more than double our membership in just a year. Trying to reach that goal will make us all focus on doing things better and faster, and making sure that we provide lots of good reasons for people like us to join and participate in PASS.
We’re working hard at finding ways to do that, but you also get to play a part in reaching that goal. You’re reading this today because you find value in PASS and in growing your skills as a SQL Server professional. I’m willing to bet that you work with or know others that work with SQL Server, so I’m going to ask that you share your interest in PASS with them. Whether you chat about it over lunch, forward your issue of the Connector, or take them with you to a local Chapter meeting, just make sure they know about PASS. No arm twisting, no sales pitch – just tell them about PASS and share your interest and passion.
Do you have a comment or question about this editorial, or PASS in general? Post it to the PASS blog, or just drop me a note at andy.warren@sqlpass.org.

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PASS Connector Editorial for May 6 - by Andy Warren

As you read this I’ll be attending my second in person board meeting for PASS, and with luck I’ll be enjoying it! As I write this on May 1st I’m looking forward to the meeting because while I certainly haven’t learned it all, I’m at that 90 day mark where you start to have a pretty good idea of who does what, what needs to be done, and can begin making deeper contributions. As always we have a lot of stuff to discuss, ranging from plans for the next quarter to setting the budget for FY 2010 which begins July 1st. I’ve already submitted a preliminary budget for next year, but it will be interesting to see how that gets folded into the final budget. I’ll try to share more details about the entire meeting in a blog post and/or here in the Connector.

Changing topics, a question surfaced on Twitter about transferring registrations for the Summit. Great question, because many companies have things come up as well as staffing changes that might prevent the original registrant from attending. The good news is that you can change registration at no cost! We also have a pretty fair cancellation policy and I encourage you to visit the Summit web site for the details.

And finally, I’d like some feedback about what your thoughts and expectations are with regards to networking at the event. Would you attend a one or two hour class on networking if we could find a way to do that? Would you find some simple coaching guides in your event bag useful? Or are there some specific people you would really like to meet at the event? Post a comment on our blog, or just email me at andy.warren@sqlpass.org.

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PASS Connector for April 8 Available for Download

The latest issue of the PASS Connector e-newsletter can be downloaded here.

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